Africa minister slammed over comments on spiralling insecurity in Nigeria

Nigerian military secure an area where a man was killed by suspected militants near Maiduguri, Nigeria, February 16, 2019.(Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Government's Minister for Africa has been criticised after claiming to be "unaware of substantiated evidence that extremist Islamist ideology is a driver of intercommunal attacks" in Nigeria.

James Duddridge MP made the comment in a letter shared by Lord Alton of Liverpool.

In a post on his website, the Crossbench Peer branded the minister's statement "a bizarre admission".

Lord Alton reported: "In a letter, the Africa Minister, James Duddridge MP, says 'The UK Government continues to be concerned by rising insecurity across Nigeria and the impact this is having on local communities'.

"But (the Minister) then goes on to say - yet again - that 'We are not aware of any substantiated evidence that extremist Islamist ideology is a driver of intercommunal attacks'."

David Alton commented: "On what planet are he and his officials living?"

The Roman Catholic former Liberal MP for Liverpool Mossley Hill highlighted his concerns about the security situation in Nigeria in his speech at a House of Lords Grand Committee on 8 September.

Peers were debating a report from their International Relations and Security Committee chaired by Baroness Anelay on 'The UK and Sub-Saharan Africa: prosperity, peace and development co-operation'.

Lord Alton shared his concerns about the state of Nigeria and the spiralling violence that has left thousands of Christians and others dead.

READ MORE: Calls for international action after church leader and 11 others killed in Nigeria

"According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria is now ranked only behind Afghanistan and Iraq. Corruption and ineptitude have run the economy into the ground, while the UK has poured in more than £2.5 billion over a decade, averaging £800,000 a day," he said. 

The peer said he has sent Mr Duddridge's department "reports that over the past eight months more than 4,000 Christians have been murdered by jihadists in Nigeria, with 400 killed in August alone".

"Over 12 years, 43,000 Christians and 29,000 Muslims have been murdered by jihadists, with places of worship destroyed, attempts to eradicate alternative beliefs and countless numbers of people displaced.

"The case of Leah Sharibu - a Christian girl abducted, raped and forcibly converted in 2018 - is highlighted in the Select Committee's report. She is still in captivity," he said.

He added: "What can the Minister tell us about Leah's case?"

Lord Alton concluded that "the levels of insecurity in Nigeria are beyond critical", and denounced the response of the Nigerian government led by President Buhari as "a mixture of complacency and complicity".

Christian Today has contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Minister's office at the House of Commons for comment on Mr Duddridge's letter.